A man, a tractor and the wide open road
It’s really not a rare occurrence to have a tractor pumping gas beside you in the midwest, but a B John Deere tractor with a camper in tow, now that’s a different story! Dewey Brooks stopped in Murdo to fill up his tractor on Wednesday, May 25 while on his way home to Wonewoc, Wis. He had travelled all the way to Mount Rushmore with his tractor as his only means of transportation. Brooks informed us that he had planned this trip for 23 years and had hit the road on May 16 with a dream in heart and people to prove wrong.
Brooks grew up in southern Wisconsin with a long line of farming heritage before him. The Brooks family farm has been located between Sparta and Norwalk, Wis. for 165 years. The year 1941 was a big one for the Brooks family as they expanded their farm equipment with the purchase of the John Deere B model #10172 (a.k.a “Old B”). It quickly became the icon of the farm and was used as an everyday tool to pull a threshing machine and also to haul oak logs out of the forest as lumber for a new silo and barn. Brooks’ father stated, “Old B never cooled down during the summer months.”
In 1947 Brooks’ father was driving the John Deere over a farm bridge when a plank flipped over causing him to roll into the creek. The tractor landed on it’s wheels, still running, but Brook’s father was seriously injured by the falling bridge debris. To this day the tractor has a dent where his father’s feet hit the tractor’s hood.
Unfortunately Old B’s luck continued to run out after the bridge incident. In the early 1950’s a hired man dropped the cultivator down when in high gear ruining gears and also chipping one of the big axle gears. A final disaster in 1966 retired the tractor to it’s final resting place when condensation in the oil pump caused the tractor to lock up. Repairs were attempted but never seemed to hold and all hope for Old B was lost. Brooks’ father removed the starter, wheels, carburater, generater and brakes. The tractor sat in nature serving as a parts supply and was even used for target practice.
In October of 1993, Brooks and his brother Dale decided to begin the project of bringing their father’s tractor back to life. It was not an easy project but by August of 2010 they had it running. Brooks told his father that Old B and Mount Rushmore are the same age and God willing, he is going to get that tractor running and drive to the monument. His father’s response was simply, “Dewey, you are crazy!”
The trip from Wonewoc, Wis., to Mount Rushmore is 1,000 miles one way, the 1941 John Deere goes about 12 miles an hour and it burns approximately a gallon of gas an hour. After 23 years of planning and with all odds against them, Brooks and Old B made it to Mount Rushmore for the 75 birthday of both monument and tractor!